My twenty-something daughter who is headed for graduate school lives at home currently, and recently talked us into watching a Joss Whedon series we’d refused to take seriously years ago: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” a series oddly popular with people in her age group. “I’m just a big old geek,” she says, and I have no idea what this means, but I’m quite fond of her. Anyway, we loved Whedon’s series “Firefly,” but most of what he does kind of gives me the creeps, and in theory this was in the “creeps” category. Nevertheless, we’ve been drawn into “Buffy.” Many of the episodes are kind of silly, but they all have a mystical, existential twist that is intriguing and occasionally meaningful, and when I least expect it, I find myself considering the series worth watching. Not exactly an extravagant compliment, eh?
Anyway, we reached the point in the series this week where Buffy finally actually dies and is dead and buried for a number of months, after which her best friend–a practicing witch–finds a way to bring her back via the casting of dark magic, and Buffy claws her way out of the grave. She has a terribly difficult time adjusting to being in life again, and her friends are rather hurt that she is not more grateful to be back in the world. She doesn’t feel that she can be honest with them about her feelings, but she finally tells Spike how she feels. Spike is a vampire with a somewhat different nature than most vampires, and he is in love with Buffy. At this point in the series, the two have a growing friendship, and she feels able to be honest with him about her reaction to being brought back from the dead: she says something to the effect that “Everyone thinks I was in Hell and so I’m lucky they brought me back, but I wasn’t. I don’t know where I was, and I don’t know who I was, but I was myself, and I was in a place that was warm and happy. I knew that everyone I loved was taken care of, and I didn’t have to worry. I was done. And I wanted to be there. And then they brought me back to the world. And the world is sharp and bright and harsh and violent, and I don’t want to be here.”
I’m paraphrasing here, but that is essentially what Buffy said, and it stayed with me, making me feel very sad, for a good 24 hours. This is my own condition: I have reached a place in my inner process now such that when God has time for me, I disappear and only love exists. It is not that I experience love, or that I know love, it is as I said: there is no “me,” there is only love. I know that love can exist in many forms and shapes, and I would imagine that I have a long way to go to knowing true love fully, and yet….there is love, and I don’t have to exist. Love does. I wish I could say this in a way that encompasses the reality of my experience, but all I can do is say the words, thus diminishing the reality. And until recently–and still a lot of the time–life has seemed exactly as Buffy describes it: loud and harsh and sharp and shallow, sometimes almost intolerable, compared to where she’d been. I would imagine that this all plays out differently for different kinds of souls, and for some it is easier–or harder–than others. My husband, for instance, is a genuinely happy man. He gets up every morning and is happy to face his day. He is undaunted by life events, even as a hospice chaplain, and I believe he is far more evolved than I am. I am not like this. I seem to bear an angelic attunement, and the sense of harshness of life on the planet is akin to that of an angel who must tolerate the earth plane, as I understand some do, out of choice. Yet the reward for it all is in those moments when I cease to exist and only Love does.
Recently, I was in a rather miserable place–well, I had been for some months, really, when I wasn’t gone and in Love–and it occurred to me to attempt to see myself through God’s eyes. For a moment, I think I was able to do that, although only for a moment: there was a flickering little figure, half light and half shadow, slipping through a veil that seemed half light and half shadow. It was not quite on one side, and not quite on the other, but….definitely darting through. I realized that this was my condition, but I also realized how the divine Being must see its creatures, and how small and vague one must look to the the One sees with that glance…. yet there is always a welcome embrace waiting for that shadowy-light little soul that is clawing its way back Home. In a way, that experience made me feel that I am dying, and of course there is a metaphorical death and an actual one, and I would guess that sometimes the death of the self seems like an actual death, whether or not it is.
Please understand: when I speak of having an “angelic attunement,” I do not mean that this makes me or anyone else who resonates to such an attunement somehow better or “higher” than others. Angels, as I understand them, have their own limitations. They can be quite stern and judgmental, and they tend to see things in terms of black and white, rather than in shades of gray. Unless they choose to incarnate as human beings, they miss out on a full realization of divinity, because they remain lost in contemplation of God, rather than coming to realize their God-natures. This is why the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon Him, described humans as having greater potential than angels.
Anyway, that was it. I don’t have much insight into any of it, except that this experience was very real, taking place in a realm I have always known, one far more real than “here.”
On the other side of that good night is a land where only Love beyond its manifestation resides.